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Arts & Culture

A Documentary On SA's Black History, A 9/11 Musical, A Classical Collaboration: Your Weekend Is Here

interview_dr_runoko_rashidi.jpg
Logic Allah
Logic Allah interviews Dr. Runoko Rashidi

The weekend is here, and if you’re looking for some arts and culture ideas, you’ve come to the right place. You can catch a documentary on the Black experience and influences in San Antonio, hear a great classical music collaboration, and watch a Broadway musical about the Sept. 11 attacks.

 

Saturday night at UTSA downtown, a documentary will play about San Antonio's Black history — the idea for which Logic Allah said grew out of a walk he and a friend were taking.  

“We were standing on the corner of  Hackberry and Center one day and you have the Carver Cultural Center,” he said. “You have the Carter-Teller Mortuary, which is the oldest Black funeral home in San Antonio. St. Paul United Methodist is right down the street.”

All these places meant a lot to him and his friend. 

Black Madonna on San Antonio's East Side.
Credit Logic Allah
Black Madonna on San Antonio's East Side.

“And so we started talking about all the history that lived on that corner, and we wondered how many people didn't know that,” he said. 

He wondered if many San Antonians discount the African influences in the city, influences they’re perhaps not even aware of.

"So when you see some of the architecture, especially at the Missions, when you see the domes, the rolling arches, the tile inlays… that's an Arabic/African style," Allah said. 

Most documentary efforts require deep research, but slavery makes tracing those roots near to impossible. Allah said that there are other avenues you can take to find that missing information.

“We've found other ways to try to trace our roots: language, tradition, culture, foods, art, oral traditions, stories.” he said. “It's a difficult puzzle to try to piece together.”

The meet-n-greet for Walk On The River starts at 6 p.m., and the film at 7. 

Mario Salas in "Walk on The River."
Credit Logic Allah
Mario Salas in "Walk on The River."

 

IF YOU GO What: A Walk On The River Where: Buena Vista Theater When: 7 p.m. Saturday Cost:  $20-$30

Also downtown Friday and Saturday night at the Majestic, a Broadway smash that Aaron Michael Ray said has an odd premise.

"If you hear that it's a 9/11 musical some people go 'Whoa, whoa, whoa!'" said Ray, who understudies five roles in the show.

He’s talking about Come From Away, which has five separate casts touring the world right now. As to its odd premise, Ray describes it this way.   

"On 9/11 there were 38 planes that were diverted to this tiny town called Gander in Newfoundland. And it had to now welcome over 7,000 plane people that were now stuck there for five days,” he said. “It's the true story of about how people had to just come together and help each other out."

Aaron Michael Ray, an understudy for five roles in "Come From Away," and Jack Morgan, the voice of TPR's "Weekender."
Credit Evie Reichel
Aaron Michael Ray, an understudy for five roles in "Come From Away," and Jack Morgan, the voice of TPR's "Weekender."

I saw it Tuesday night. I've seen a lot of musicals, and it's like nothing I've ever seen.

"This show is choreographed down to the toenail. But there's not a lot of dance involved,” Ray said. “It's a 100 minutes, no intermission of just back-to-back, extremely fast-paced. It's really interesting to watch."

Unlike most Broadway musicals, where audiences applaud after every song, Come From Away’s construction and pacing leave only three designated places for applause. By the time it ends, Brown said audiences really respond.

"That uproar of an applause is like nothing I've ever heard. They all just jump to their feet and it's a really great feeling," he said. 

 

IF YOU GO What: Come From Away Where: Majestic Theatre When: 8 p.m. Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday Cost:  $49-$826

Then on Saturday a musical collaboration which Trinity University Director of Choral Activities’ Gary Seighman says was also conceived with a horrible premise.

"It was written during a time of great turmoil in Europe. Napoleon had just won four major battles and had his eye set on Vienna," he said.

It was 1798, and Joseph Haydn wrote the Lord Nelson Mass anticipating his Vienna home would soon become a war zone.  

"He wrote 14 masses, the only one in a minor key," Seighman said.

Joseph Kneer conducts Trinity University's orchestra, and he agreed that the minor key gives the whole mass a different vibe.

“There are very few instances where a whole work — a mass — was in minor, so this is particularly special,” he said.

Seighman said the experience of hearing this mass sung and played by so many performers will be memorable to say the least.

The choirs and the orchestra at Trinity Baptist Church.
Credit Jennifer Seighman
The choirs and the orchestra at Trinity Baptist Church.

“So the chorus numbers about 165 singers, between the members of the San Antonio Choral Society, directed by Jennifer Seighman, my wife, and the combined university choirs,” he said. 

Kneer says the mass is deadly serious, but with moments of real brightness.

"All of a sudden it's like the clouds open up and the light is descending on it and there is hope,” he said. “And I think there are a lot of moments of that, too in the mass."

Seighman says the Trinity Baptist Church is a great place to take it all in.   

"It's an incredible space for a work of this magnitude," he said.

IF YOU GO What: Haydn, Lord Nelson Mass Where: Trinity Baptist Church When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday Cost:  $12-17

 

 

Jack Morgan can be reached at Jack@TPR.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii.